The Titans were riddled with defensive problems all year long last season. Tennessee was 24th in the league when it came to stopping the run and 26th against the pass.
The franchise is giving their defensive coordinator, Jerry Gray, another opportunity to ‘right the ship’ in 2013.
Fresh off of ‘Bounty Gate', Gregg Williams was hired as a senior defensive assistant during the offseason. This is really the only fresh face on the defensive staff, which could be a cause for concern.
Tennessee will get some help in its secondary, signing former Bills veteran safety George Wilson today.
But it all starts up front.
Tracy Rocker, third year defensive line coach, has a tough task on his hands and free agency could make his job a little easier.
As we roll through the positions, defensive end is a key for the Titans in their time off. A solid pass rusher is a must to win in this league.
Here are the Titans DE pickings:
Michael Johnson (CIN) - DE – Johnson would be an ideal fit for Tennessee. He’s young, fast off of the end, and has proven track record that he can hit the quarterback. 11.5 sacks in 2012 to go along with 52 tackles, the Bengals don’t want to let a talent like this get away. The Titans best pass rusher, Derrick Morgan, had 6.5 sacks and only 35 tackles last season. Money is the only fish hook that will reel Johnson into being a Titan.
Cliff Avril (DET) - DE - With a 9.5 sack season, Avril will be a commodity for a team with defensive end struggles. The Lions are meeting with Avril today in Indianapolis to discuss re-signing the 4-year veteran. I think the Titans will look at Avril because of his potential. In five years in the league, he’s only missed 7 games and had 11 sacks in 2011. And I don’t think Detroit will franchise him because the DE number is set at $12.7 million.
Michael Bennett (TB) - DE – Bennett is due for a big contract because of his ability to stop the run and rush the passer. Tampa Bay was #1 in rush defense last season and Bennett finished the year with 9 sacks & 41 tackles. The Bucs paid Bennett $2.7 million in 2012 and there will be teams bidding for his services but Tampa has so much cap room, look for him to stay in pewter and red.
Richard Seymour (OAK) - DE/DT – Seymour is a utility defensive lineman that has proved he can play inside and out. At 6-6 317lbs, Seymour is a big body and the Titans don’t need the Raiders scraps. Tennessee shouldn’t look too far into signing him unless it is for cheap and expect him to go to a playoff contender to close out his career.
Dwight Freeney (IND) - DE – Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 scheme did not bode well for Freeney as he posted his second lowest sack total in his 10 year career. Tabbing just 5 sacks in 2012, the Titans 4-3 defense would benefit the both of them in a number of ways. Leadership for one. Freeney is a guy who will draw attention and at 33, he is the same age as Julius Peppers, who is still playing at a high level. Reports have the Jets and Giants looking at Freeney but Tennessee should try to take this DE away from a division rival and let him flourish.
Osi Umenyiora (NYG) - DE – Here is player that teams could overpay for. Umenyiora only had 6 sacks last year and will no doubt try the market to start out with. He could be a good outside threat opposite of Derrick Morgan, who likes to bull rush. The Titans haven’t shown that they like to spend big time money on veterans but if the market passes Umenyiora, Tennessee could swoop in and pay less for a need that they have.
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